Macadamia cheese on toast on the menu as New Zealand's largest marae goes vegan

New Zealand's largest marae is slowly but surely going vegan.

Cooks at Turangawaewae are on a mission to change bad food habits. Source: 1 NEWS

Turangawaewae in Ngaruawahia hosts thousands of manuhiri, or visitors, a year and it's famous for its hospitality.

But for its 160th birthday celebrations, which started today and will run into the weekend, kitchen cooks are identifying mealtimes where they can go vegan only. This morning, it was breakfast.

It'll come as a shock to some for whom bacon and eggs or marae mince are somewhat of a staple after an early morning karakia.

Rev Ngira Simmonds admitted he was looking forward to a full brekkie. Instead he was faced with a scrambled tofu burrito, smashed pea and macadamia cheese on toast and an eggplant roti.

"I was standing outside dreaming of hash browns, spaghetti and eggs on toast and came inside and saw all the kai, but oh well got to embrace the change.

"It all tastes good," Rev Simmonds said.

Glenda Raumati is the architect of the changes, she's a kitchen boss running the menus but also manages a health clinic across the road from Turangawaewae.

She says the marae is  trying to change its eating habits so Maori, who have high diabetes and cardio vascular diseases related to kai intake, will as well.

"We're trying to change the way our people eat, you can never eat too many vegetables."

Still, going the whole hog and cutting out all meat is a way off.

Glenda says she'll be happy with just small lifestyle changes, one meal at a time.